Rig Hauling Hazardous Materials Rolls in New Mexico

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -- Interstate 10 west of here was closed for several hours while emergency workers cleaned up two accidents, including the crash of a tractor-trailer that was hauling explosives and flammable liquid.

The eastbound lanes were opened before dawn Thursday, but the westbound lanes remained closed. Motorists were diverted to a frontage road.

The first accident happened around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when the driver of the tractor-trailer told police he swerved to avoid an erratic driver and lost control. The truck driver, Martin Guzman, 34, of Corpus Christi, Texas, and passenger Charles Gibson, 39, of Houston were treated for minor injuries, police said.

As emergency workers sought to determine the nature of the rig's contents, a line of vehicles backed up in the westbound lanes. At about 3 p.m., a van driven by Ruth Maxey, 83, of Deming, crashed into a tractor-trailer that was slowing down.

Maxey told police she was trying to pass the truck when the front corner of her van struck the rear of the semi's trailer. The van then spun around and collided with the front of the semi, causing the minivan to roll onto its top.

State police spokesman Lt. Jimmy Glascock said the passenger, Marion Maxey, 86, later died of his injuries.

The rig involved in the first accident was carrying 580 pounds of explosives, 1,350 pounds of flammable liquid and 3,780 pounds of flammable gas, police said. The combination caused police to close the area.

The Las Cruces Fire Department hazardous materials team and Dona Ana County emergency operation center were on standby as state police and bomb teams from White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss worked to remove the flammable materials from the trailer.

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